The Act of Killing
When critics say that a movie will "challenge audience expectations," they usually mean something along the lines of: The characters are multidimensional. The pretty girl ends up with the fat friend. The good guy doesn't live happily ever after. And when "you won't believe your eyes" is tossed around, it's because some supercomputer spewed out some pretty sweet CGI. What these phrases don't often mean is that a film will uproot beliefs about human decency so deeply held that you didn't even realize you had them, or that there will be moments when you will find yourself literally unable to trust the truth of what you are seeing. So it is in the documentary The Act of Killing, in which war criminal Anwar Congo and his friends set out to film re-creations of their activities during the 1965 Indonesian coup, approaching the project with the glee of kids filming a skit. ALISON HALLETT Hollywood Theatre.
A drama starring John Cusack and Emma Roberts, in which a poet (Roberts) "begrudgingly accepts a job at Adult World, the local, wood-paneled sex shop." Not screened for critics. Hollywood Theatre.
The Best Offer
There's a vast difference between the sort of movie The Best Offer thinks it is (fancy, highbrow, smart) and the sort of movie The Best Offer actually is (lurid, predictable, silly). That distance lends the film an element of camp that, apparently enough, is completely unintentional—Anglophiles with a sense of humor might actually enjoy this one. ALISON HALLETT Living Room Theaters.
"Except for their humping, Tyler and Marla were never in the same room. My parents pulled this exact same act for years." Academy Theater.
The Forgotten Space
A documentary about the international shipping trade. Screens as part of the NW Film Center and Yale Union's Production/Distribution series; more at nwfilm.org. Whitsell Auditorium.
Generation War (Part 1)
A controversial, four-and-a-half-hour-long German miniseries set in WWII, split into two movies for American audiences. Living Room Theaters.
See review this issue. Various Theaters.
See My, What a Busy Week! Hollywood Theatre.
Stupid movies can be glorious things, but I, Frankenstein delivers inanity with such literal and figurative stone-facedness that it drains nearly all the fun from its insane premise: grumpy-but-sexy Frankenstein's Monster (Aaron Eckhart) gets adopted by Leonore, Queen of the Gargoyles (Miranda Otto), who, with her coterie of crouching, glowering, winged underlings, is waging a centuries-long war against Naberius (Bill Nighy), an evil demon and a proud member of the one percent. I, Frankenstein mostly consists of a flurry of CGI battles that take place in an unnamed, unpopulated city; presumably, all the non-gargoyle residents have moved away due to either the exploding demons or the heavy fog of dullness. Featuring entirely too many cues lifted from the Underworld movies, a series that miraculously managed to make a dreary affair out of watching Kate Beckinsale fight werewolves and vampires while wearing a skintight catsuit. I, HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
The Invisible Woman
See review this issue. Fox Tower 10.
The Iron Giant
"This is no meteor, gentlemen. This is something much more serious." Hollywood Theatre.
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
Have you ever dated somebody who was super good-looking, but there wasn't really a connection, and you were pretty sure they were straight-up dumb, but they got a pass because it's fun to make out with hot people and you decided not to care about substance? And you knew in your heart that it was nonsense, but he was glossy and loud and fast and fun, and sometimes that's enough? Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is a movie version of that person. ELINOR JONES: SHADOW RECRUIT Various Theaters.
Knights of Badassdom
A comedy in which live-action role-players accidentally summon a real demon, starring an all-star team of TV nerds: Game of Thrones' Peter Dinklage, Firefly's Summer Glau, Community's Danny Pudi, and True Blood's Ryan Kwanten. Ominously, it was not screened for critics. Living Room Theaters.
It hasn't been that long. Moreover, Operation Redwings—the 2005 operation against an insurgent leader in Afghanistan that killed 19 Navy SEALs and Special Ops forces and inspired Peter Berg's Lone Survivor—is part of a conflict that hasn't fully resolved. Society hasn't processed this war, so to add misleading fictions into the mix feels, at best, premature. MARJORIE SKINNER Various Theaters.
Monty Python and the Holy Grail
See My, What a Busy Week! Laurelhurst Theater.
See review this issue. On Demand, iTunes, and Amazon.
Ice Cube playing a cop in Ride Along must've been funny, a little bit, to everyone he told. His friends. His family. Dr. Dre. MC Ren. The altar in his dining room devoted to Eazy-E. I bet they laughed especially hard when he read to them from the script—like that one scene where they'd have to roll up on a young black street informant, played by SNL's Jay Pharaoh, and get him to talk, scaring the shit out of him, by threatening to kick his ass and/or lie about Pharoah's informant getting physical with a cop. Ride Along, you see, is a comedy. And nothing's funnier than irony. DENIS C. THERIAULT Various Theaters.
Robert Frost: A Lover's Quarrel With the World
The 1963 film about Frost, followed by 1975's Eadweard Muybridge, Zoopraxographer. Screens as part of the Treasures from the UCLA Archive series; more at nwfilm.org. Whitsell Auditorium.
Filmmaker James Benning's "strand of 43 single-takes of trains chugging up and down tracks and in and out of frame." Screens as part of the NW Film Center and Yale Union's Production/Distribution series; more at nwfilm.org. Whitsell Auditorium.
Tie Xi Qu: West of the Tracks
A covertly shot documentary about China's largest manufacturing center. It's nine hours long, but there'll be two 30 minute breaks, at least? Screens as part of the NW Film Center and Yale Union's Production/Distribution series; more at nwfilm.org. Whitsell Auditorium.